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ISIS claims responsibility for deadly Mali attack on 49 soldiers

FILE:  Soldiers stand guard as smoke rises in the distance after a car bomb attack in Gao, northern Mali July 1, 2018.
FILE: Soldiers stand guard as smoke rises in the distance after a car bomb attack in Gao, northern Mali July 1, 2018.   -   Copyright  REUTERS/via Reuters TV
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The so-called Islamic State group on Saturday claimed responsibility for a devastating raid that killed 49 Malian troops in the eastern Menaka region near Niger.

"Soldiers of the caliphate attacked a military base where elements of the apostate Malian army were stationed in the village of Indelimane," the IS said in a statement on its social media channels.

Friday's assault killed 49 soldiers, wounded three and left 20 survivors, the Malian Armed Forces (FAMa) said Saturday.

Attaque contre les FAMa à Indelimane La situation est sous contrôle des FAMa à Indelimane. Les FAMa enregistrent 49...

Publiée par Forces Armees Maliennes sur Samedi 2 novembre 2019

A government spokesman gave a provisional toll of 54 dead earlier on Saturday.

The attack is one of the deadliest strikes against the West African country's military in recent memory.

On Saturday, French corporal Ronan Pointeau, 24, died after an armoured vehicle in which he was travelling hit an improvised explosive device (IED) in the same region, a French defence ministry statement said.

The so-called Islamic State group late Saturday also claimed responsibility for that, saying its fighters had "detonated an explosive device on a French army convoy in the Indelimane area".

READ MORE: French soldier killed in Mali bomb attack claimed by ISIS

From their stronghold in Mali, groups with al Qaeda and Islamic State links have been able to fan out across the Sahel, destabilising parts of Niger and Burkina Faso.

Thirty-eight Malian soldiers were killed on Sept. 30 in coordinated attacks on two army bases in central Mali, which has slipped from government control despite the presence of the French army and other international forces.

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